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UPDATE 4-Dish misses profit expectations, but limits subscriber losses

(Updates share price, adds analyst comment)

Aug 3 (Reuters) - Dish Network Corp on Thursday reported quarterly results that missed analysts' estimates, but the satellite television provider lost fewer subscribers than expected.

Shares were down 2 percent to $62.72 in early trading.

The company has been buying up wireless airwaves, or spectrum, in recent years as its satellite business has come under pressure from cable as well as cheaper streaming options. In April, Dish was the second-largest winner in a U.S. government auction of spectrum. The end of a ban on merger talks associated with the auction means that Dish can hold discussions on possible combinations with other companies in the industry.

We believe that the majority of Dish value lies in spectrum, and that the company will continue looking at M&A opportunities among traditional carriers and outside participants, JPMorgan analysts said in a note.

Dish said it lost about 196,000 subscribers to its satellite TV and Sling TV services in the second quarter. Dish launched the cheaper streaming service in 2015 to attract younger viewers who are shifting away from bigger television bundles.

The loss came in below analysts' average expectation of 256,000 subscribers, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.

The beat on subscribers was likely driven by growth of lower-value Sling users rather than improved satellite subscriber losses, said Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst at New Street Research.

Net income attributable to Dish plunged 90 percent to $40 million or 9 cents per share in the quarter, hurt by litigation expenses, net of taxes, of $280 million.

Excluding one-time items, Dish earned 69 cents per share, missing analysts' average estimate of 75 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Dish said second-quarter revenue dipped nearly 6 percent to $3.64 billion as average revenue per user declined in its pay-TV business. Analysts on an average had expected $3.72 billion.

Analysts have speculated that Dish could tie up with wireless carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc or T-Mobile US Inc. But in May, Chief Executive Charlie Ergen said he was open to other partnerships.

One other possible partner could be online retail giant Amazon.com Inc. The two companies' aspirations may be intersecting around connected devices, Citi analysts said in a research note in May. Ergen has said the company plans to build a low-cost wireless network by 2020 to meet the U.S. government's deadline for deploying some of Dishs spectrum, and Amazon could be a customer or investor. (Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru and Anjali Athavaley in New York; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Nick Zieminski)